We here at Lets’ Get Sciencey have introduced you to some of the most important women in medicine and engineering. Now it is time to celebrate some amazing famous tech ladies who made it possible for humankind to reach this current stage of development.
Women have been the foundation of computer sciences and instrumental to the development of all stages of the modern computer age. Pioneering women have been responsible for the earliest forms of the internet, for coding the systems that put the man to the moon, and even for the way you search for something online.
Despite this, women still have to deal with underrepresentation in this field. Even today, many people do not realize the incredible impact that women have had in this vital part of our contemporary world.
So, it is time for all of us to join in celebrating these top 10+ outstanding famous tech ladies!
1. Dorothy E. Denning
- Developed the Lattice-Based Access Control (LBAC) for cybersecurity
- Developed the first Intrusion Detecting System
We start the presentation of our top 10+ tech ladies with Dorothy E. Denning. With Denning’s birthday celebrated last month, what is a better way to honor her efforts if not making her the first entry on our list?
Denning was born on the 12th of August 1945 and grew up in Michigan. She is most famous for her contributions to cybersecurity.
Dorothy developed a method known as Lattice-Based Access Control (LBAC), which gives controlled access to sensitive information based on varying factors.
She later created further developments to the security industry through the development of the first Intrusion Detecting System, designed to detect and block any malicious or unidentified activity.
In addition to changing the cybersecurity landscape for generations to come, she has also authored four books and over 200 articles. In recognition of her contributions, she has received over 20 awards and received an induction into the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame.
2. Grace Hopper
- “The Mother of Computing”
- Contributions to the Mark 1 computer, FLOW-MATIC, CBOL
Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist, considered the “Mother of computing.” She was an Admiral for the U.S. Navy Reserves during World War 2 and revolutionized the way that computers process information.
Hopper was one of the women programmers to work on the Mark 1 computer, the world’s first to automatically calculate complex equations. She was also part of the team to create the UNIVAC I, the first computer designed for business operations opposed to scientific ones.
She was responsible for the creation of the FLOW-MATIC, the fist English-like data processing language in place of machine coding. This processing language evolved to become the Common Business Orientated Language (CBOL), but it remains the foundation of computers’ use of information.
Hopper worked as a technical consultant for the team, updating the language and developing the validation software for it. She also created a method of standardized testing for the programming languages.
“The Queen of Coding” has received numerous awards and recognitions, including an annual celebration of her work: The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing aimed to inspire women in technology.
3. Margaret Hamilton
- The flight software used for the Apollo space program
- One of the people credited with coining the term “software engineering”
Margaret Hamilton is one of those tech ladies that seem out of this world entirely! She was responsible for developing the flight software used for the Apollo space program.
In 1959, she joined the meteorology department at MIT, working on software to predict the weather. She did that despite there being no formal computer or software engineering courses available at the time.
Hamilton would go onto work on the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) project, a system that would stitch together images from radar sites into a single image covering a wide area.
This technology would become the next favorite project adopted by the US Airforce to provide defensive measures against potential soviet attacks.
Her efforts in this project made her an ideal candidate for the space program. She became the lead software developer for Apollo flight software, allowing the Apollo 11 mission to successfully land on the moon and return home safely.
Hamilton holds many awards for her efforts. They include the Presidential Medal of Freedom (from President Barack Obama), the Computer History Museum Fellow Award, honorary doctorates, and even a Lego mini-figure of her, created to celebrate women of NASA.
4. Radia Perlman
- The inventor of the spanning-tree protocol (STP)
- The inventor of the TRILL protocol
Radia Perlman is a famous women programmer who will go down in history for her outstanding contributions to the creation and evolution of the internet.
She is famous for her Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which changed the way network computers interact. Radia completely changed the course of the internet by creating a method of massive data storage with secure linking.
In certain circles, people know her as “The Mother of the Internet” because her algorithm made the modern-day internet possible.
A famous female inventor in her own rights, Radia Perlman holds around 100 patents – mostly internet-related. She has also regulated network designs, creating a more straightforward method to construct and maintain networks.
In recognition of Perlman’s contributions to programming, she has received a Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction to the Internet Hall of Fame in 2014, and a National Inventors Hall of Fame induction in 2016.
In recent years, she invented the TRILL protocol to correct some of STP’s shortcomings.
5. Mary Allen Wilkes
- The first user of a Personal Computer
- One of the first computer programmers in the world
When it comes to famous women in technology and computer sciences, few can compare to Mary Allen Wilkes. History widely considers her the first user of a personal computer (PC) at home. She also worked as one of the first computer programmers of all times.
Wilkes worked as a programmer and logic designer for MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory on the LINC computer console (predecessor to the modern PC).
She designed the prototype console and wrote the operators manual. During this time, Wilkes worked from her parent’s home using a LINC provided by the university.
Wilkes left Lincoln Laboratory to work for the Center for Computer Technology in MIT’s biomedical sciences campus and trained the first wave of computer programmers.
She also designed the interactive operating system, allowing computers to become easier to understand and use.
This amazing great woman paved the way to the creation of the computer you are reading this on just now.
6. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller
- The creation of BASIC computer language
- First female to receive her Ph.D. in computer sciences
Next on our list of famous women in technology and one of the most impressive tech ladies in the world is Sister Mary Kenneth Keller.
She was a nun in the Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is a nun doing on a list of famous female computer scientists? Well, in addition to being a nun, she was also highly educated in computer sciences. Not a standard combination of interests, but Kenneth Keller excelled in both areas.
She was devout all her life and became a powerful woman in the tech industry through her involvement with the creation of the BASIC computer language.
While studying at college, Kenneth Keller began working with the National Science Foundation at Dartmouth College. Here, she collaborated with a team to create the Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) programming language. It, as the name suggests, made it easier for beginners to understand programming.
Kenneth Keller earned her Ph.D. in computing sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
When she received her doctorate, she became the second person ever to achieve such a thing and the very first woman to receive her Ph.D. in computing science. Also, she is likely the only nun to ever do so.
7. Megan Smith
- First female ever United States’ Chief Technology Officer
- The chief protector of Net Neutrality
Megan Smith is another addition to our famous female computer scientists and tech ladies without whom your internet browsing history would never be the same.
She served as Vice President at Google for nine years before becoming the United States third-ever (and first female ever) Chief Technology Officer.
Serving under President Barack Obama, Megan was invaluable in the fight for net neutrality, protecting freedom of information on the internet.
She encouraged diversity within the tech industry through the creation of a White House website aimed towards women in STEM.
She spoke at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. This speech inspired a group of students to form the charity organization Coding it Forward, an internship for students in data science and technology.
8. Erna Schneider Hoover
- Developed a control mechanism for telephone switchboards
- One of the first people to receive a patent for software
Erna Schneider Hoover was a pioneer for women in the computing and tech industries. She earned a degree in Mathematics and was one of the first people to receive a patent for software.
While working as a professor of Philosophy and Logic at Swarthmore College, she also developed a control mechanism for telephone switchboards.
At the time, phone calls would go through to a switchboard operator who would then manually direct your call.
It was an unreliable system and easily overwhelmed if calls would come flooding in. Schneider Hoover upgraded this system by replacing the operators with a computer system that would lead to how we know phones today.
9. Rosalind Picard
- Artificial Intelligence pioneer
- Creator of the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT Media Labs
Rosalind Picard is the founder of the branch of computer sciences known as “affective computing,” involving emotion AI technologies.
She pioneered the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT Media Labs, where her team works to create top of the line emotionally sensitive computer programs.
From here, Picard co-founded Affectiva, advancing the technology involved in recognition of facial cues and body language in AI technology.
Next, she founded Empatica, an award-winning company that developed the world’s first AI smartwatch for monitoring seizures.
She is one of those tech ladies and computer scientists that went way ahead of science fiction literature, leaving fiction writers without interesting topics.
She has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions throughout her impressive career, including nominalizations such as “The Outstanding Woman Engineering Student” and “Leader of the Year.”
She has won the Epilepsy Foundation Innovation Seal of Excellence and received a spot on CNN’s 7 Tech Superheroes to Watch. We are only scratching the surface to the number of awards this amazing woman has achieved.
We are also barely scratching the surface when it comes to Picard’s (oh, such a predestined name!) future AI projects.
10. Karen Spärck Jones
- The inventor of the Inverse Document Frequency (IDF)
- The pioneer of the search engine algorithm
Karen Sparck Jones was a British computer scientist whose work we use it every day of our lives and we don’t even know it. Well, as bloggers and internet users, we do know it, but everybody should join this exclusivist party as well.
Dr. Jones is the one responsible for the concept of keyword searches, the building block of all search engines.
As experts in the field say, all SEOs should know and praise her, as without the “Einstein of Search,” we would not use search engines as we do today.
She began her career working for the Cambridge University Research Unit, where she researched natural language processing and information retrieval.
Her work led to the development of inverse document frequency (IDF), where the computer system would scan for uses of the desired word or phrase being searched for and return the findings to the user.
This breakthrough is the underlying concept that search engines still use today, regardless of the technological advancements.
Jones has received numerous awards for her contributions to the computer sciences. She was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Computational Linguistics and an Award of Merit from the Association of Information Science and Technology.
In 2008, The British Computer Society named an award in her honor, and in 2017, her hometown University of Huddersfield renamed their computing and engineering campus the Spärck Jones building.
11. Evelyn Boyd Granville
- The second African American female to receive a degree in Mathematics
- Instrumental pioneer of in-depth space explorations
Next up on our famous women in computer sciences list is Evelyn Boyd Granville.
She was the second African American female to receive a degree in Mathematics and played an instrumental part of in-depth space explorations.
While working with NASA, she was involved in the Apollo program, contributing to the complex celestial mathematics for calculating the trajectory of moving objects in space. Let’s just say that her work made it possible for humans to reach further into space than ever before.
She went on to work as a professor of Mathematics at the California State University, developing programs to enhance Mathematics taught in elementary schools.
Over the years, Boyd Granville has received great praise for her contributions. She was the first African American woman in tech to be awarded an honorary doctorate from Smith College. She was recently named as one of New Relic’s
four giants of women’s contributions to science and technology
and was included in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Portrait Collection of African Americans in Science.
12. Carol Shaw
- Gaming industry pioneer
- One of the few female video game designers in history
Carol Shaw is the last entry on our top 12 tech ladies to celebrate more often. Another famous woman programmer, she was the first female video game designer. Today, the industry considers her an inspiration for women everywhere, especially since she entered the gaming industry back in the seventies.
In her career, she has worked for both Atari and Activision. She offered her outstanding ideas and efforts to several projects while working at Atari, such as 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, Othello, Video Checkers, and Super Breakout.
She is best known for her work on River Raid with Activision. The project was a huge hit, winning numerous awards such as Best Action Game and Best Atari 8-bit Game of the Year.
For her contributions to the industry, she received an Industry Icon Award from The Game Awards in 2017 for being
a trailblazer; one of the first female game designers ever; the first woman to get her name on a game’s box.
Which of These Famous Tech Ladies and Computer Scientists do You Appreciate Most?
There we have them, twelve famous women in technology and computer sciences!
These tech ladies have dedicated their lives to the advancement of technology and have inspired countless others to follow their paths. Women have been the backbone of the industry but sometimes, we leave them out of the history books.
There are many other amazing ladies of tech that have not made it to this list, yet this does not mean their contribution was any less significant. In fact, we will continue our work by presenting you with other outstanding female pioneers in technology and STEM very soon.
However, If you know other women in tech that you appreciate for their work and you’d like to see us mentioning them, drop us a line in the comments section below!
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